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American Airlines Has “Zero Consideration” For The Well-Being of Flight Attendants Blasts Union in Battle Over Working Hours

American Airlines Has “Zero Consideration” For The Well-Being of Flight Attendants Blasts Union in Battle Over Working Hours

American Airlines isn’t “interested in caring for its employees” and its only concern is maximizing the number of hours flight attendants work, the airline’s official flight attendant union has blasted in a new dispute over working hours.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) claims management at the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline is “stuffing as much time” into flight attendant rosters as possible with “zero consideration” for the well-being of crew members.

The problem arises from how AA creates flight attendant ‘trip sequences’, with the union claiming the airline is building such “poorly constructed” sequences that they can’t withstand frequent weather problems or air traffic control delays.

A trip sequence is a series of flights a flight attendant is rostered to work over a set number of days. If a flight attendant is significantly delayed on one flight, then the delay will roll onto the next flight they are assigned to work and this can have serious ripple effects throughout the day.

Rather than addressing the “root problems”, the union claims AA is simply putting even more flight attendants on reserve duty so that they can be called from standby to fill in the gaps in broken trip sequences.

“The sheer number of Reserve Flight Attendants used to complete these fragile sequences is shocking,” the union complained in a recent memo, saying the airline was “blatantly ignoring” its suggestions to make the operation more resilient.

Because of AA’s seniority-based system, trip sequences are assigned to more senior ‘line holders’, while junior flight attendants are placed on reserve. Junior flight attendants are finding themselves stuck with constant reserve duties, while line holders are being forced to work more hours.

“Our concerns and logical arguments fall on deaf ears, especially with the allocations department,” the union told flight attendants in a recent memo.

“Blatantly ignoring APFA’s input every month, the allocations department continues to build sequences that cannot withstand weather and air traffic delays”.

American Airlines says, however, that its on-time arrival rate and flight completion factor for the second quarter of 2022 were actually better than the same period in 2019. The airline has also claims it is managing to run “a reliable operation in very challenging conditions”.

The aviation industry has blamed severe weather and air traffic controls for many of its woes this summer but staffing shortages have also been a contributing factor, especially when airlines have struggled to quickly recover their operation after a period of disruption.

American Airlines has been contacted for comment.

View Comments (4)
    • what goes around comes around

      when you care for workers, they care for customers
      when you don’t, they won’t simple as that

  • Even a stopped clock is right twice a day! And the union is right on poorly constructed trips for crew. Before computers hyper-automated crew scheduling trying to squeeze an extra minute or two of flight attendant or pilot time per day, crews tended to be on the same plane as they traversed a hub. Not so anymore.

    A weather event creates cascading problems that can last days. A plane at the gate, can’t leave because it lacks crew. The crew is on another plane that can’t get to a gate because all gates are full waiting for crew. When the mess is untangled, all the crew are now illegal on hours. So the flights are all cancelled and the crew are now not where they’re supposed to be leading to more cancellations. They used to cancel a few flights and reallocate legal crew. But they can’t do that now either.

    They COULD build schedules that were more resilient and didn’t require perfect operations. They choose not to.

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